Do you love working with children? Are you looking for a part-time job in which you can make decent money providing a valuable–and much appreciated–service? A job in which every day is just a little different and may involve playing with Lego and play-dough? Then consider becoming a mother’s helper may be one of the most gratifying of the money making ideas for you!
A cross between a nanny and a baby-sitter, a mother’s helper provides child care and light household help for a parent who stays or works at home. Back in your great-great grandmother’s time, this function was served by an older daughter or a girl hired from a neighboring household. Now today’s over-stressed, over-extended SAHM/WAHM, or homeschool mom is willing to pay well for competent, responsible help.
While each parent will have different requirements for her particular situation, here are qualities which will stand you in good stead:
- You enjoy spending time with children.
- You’re fun, yet firm.
- You’re flexible (life with small children is never predictable!).
- You’re willing to do light housework, even if it’s messy or disagreeable.
- You’re willing to run errands.
- You’re able to lift, bend, and reach.
- You’re conscientious and responsible.
- You’re able to take initiative and work without close supervision.
- You have a clean background check.
- You’re discreet. Your employer may treat you as a family member and confide in you, and you’ll be privy to household information. You must keep it to yourself, unless the children are endangered.
- You have good communications and interpersonal skills.
- Other qualifications individual households may require include: CPR and first-aid training; literacy or foreign language skills; a driver’s license; the ability to swim, and flexible hours.
You’ll need to spend very little money to become a mother’s helper. While you should interview in a nice suit, chances are the dress code will be casual. Make sure your clothing is washable! If you don’t drive, you’ll need to pay for transportation. In a competitive market, it’s wise to pay for some childcare classes. CPR/basic lifesaving training is, really, a must–but is affordable at $40 ($65 for professional health care workers).
How Much Can You Make?
Wages vary depending on several factors:
- Age and experience.
- Number of hours worked.
- Whether or not you “live in.”
- The area of the country in which you live, and whether you’re working in urban or less metropolitan areas.
- The number of children
- Whether or not you’re represented by an agency.
Many childcare employment agencies do not list rates online; they want the chance to sell their services. However, a common rate seems to be a base of $10-14 per hour, with $1 or $2 more extra per child/per hour. If, as will probably happen, you’re asked to include a “guest child” (relative or playmate), your rate goes up by at least another $1 per hour per extra child. No matter what your pay, be sure that, if you make over $1700 in a year (2009 and 2010), your employer pays your social security and federal unemployment taxes. What you make now affects what your benefits are later, so do not agree to accept money “under the table.”
Advantages of Working as a Mother’s Helper
Working as a mother’s helper can be enjoyable, for you and the family you work for. Some benefits:
- A flexible schedule which enables you to pursue your education or a low-paying career you love
- Practical experience for those planning on childcare careers
- Forming close relationships with a family
- A variety of duties and experiences
- Appreciation from the relieved parent
- The knowledge that you are making a difference in one family’s quality of life
- The opportunity to learn from the family you work for
- Help from the parent at home
- Possibility of learning a new culture/language
Disadvantages of Working as a Mother’s Helper
Of course, not every aspect of childcare is fun and games. Here are some not-so-sunshiny experiences you may have with this most energetic of money making ideas:
- If you work independently, it may be difficult to find employers who can or will handle their tax obligations towards you
- The children’s mother is there, which may cause friction when it comes to discipline and other issues.
- While a mother’s helper is expected to do “light housework,” the definition of “light” can vary widely.
- Typically, you will have no benefits or paid days off.
- Small children are demanding; caring for their constant needs is not always enjoyable.
- Occasionally, a mother can become jealous of your bond with her children.
- Your employer may have a difficult time articulating her job requirements and expectations.
Examples of Services Offered:
One of the most interesting aspects of being a mother’s helper is that the duties vary from job to job–and from day to day! Here are some of the services you may be asked to provide:
- Preparing meals
- Planning and chaperoning birthday parties
- Making clean-up fun
- Traveling with the family
- Providing overnight service
- Caring for a special needs child
- Caring for multiples
- Organizing “field trips” to local parks, museums, and playgrounds
- Playing chauffeur
- Providing tutoring or lessons
Other Things You Should Know
While working as a mother’s helper is one of the best money making ideas for a student who loves children, or someone planning a career in education or childcare, it’s also very intimate work; it can take time to find a family with whom you are a good fit. It’s also a temporary job. Eventually, as children grow, or the family’s finances or circumstances change, you’ll need to find a new position. For that reason, as well as the benefits that come from employer screening, you’ll want to consider signing with a childcare agency.